U.S. Supreme Court Blocks Clean Power Plan – Update

On February 9, 2016, the United States Supreme Court issued an order to block the Clean Power Plan until litigation addressing whether the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) legally implemented the Plan concludes.

The controversial Plan aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing U.S. power plants by an estimated 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

At this time, it is unclear whether the court-ordered stay of the Plan will delay implementation.


27 states as well as industry stakeholders have filed numerous legal challenges to the Clean Power Plan. Opponents of the Plan allege that the EPA’s imposition of the rulemaking infringes on state authority and creates an undue burden for the states. Although oral arguments are being heard by the federal U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in June, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order Tuesday that stays implementation of the Plan pending the D.C. Court of Appeals’ decision.

Under the Clean Power Plan, every state must submit a plan between 2016 and 2018 to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from their electricity sectors by a specific amount, which varies by state. State plans are due to the EPA by September 6, 2016, and the plans must become effective no later than 2022. Since the issue of the Plan’s legality will not be resolved by the September 2016 submission deadline and the Clean Power Plan is stayed while litigation plays out, states may choose to hold off on finalizing and submitting their plans to the EPA.

However, if the federal courts ultimately uphold the Clean Power Plan, reductions under the state plans may still occur on schedule since these plans will not become effective until 2022 (long after litigation will likely conclude). For this reason, the Supreme Court’s ruling may not ultimately delay implementation of these state plans.

The fate of the Clean Power Plan will likely be decided this year or in 2017…


Sharon Montazeri, Federal Court Refuses To Block Clean Power Plan Until Litigation Concludes, Red-on-line USA, January 21, 2016.

Order in Pending Case: In Re West Virginia, et al.

Final rule, fact sheets and details about the Clean Power Plan, the final standards for new, modified and reconstructed sources and the proposed federal plan are available at: Clean Power Plan

More information about the Clean Power Plan here.

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